Retro Wrap-Up: Game Gear Edition

Monday, December 14th, 2015

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SEGA Game Gear | Retro Wrap-Up

Nintendo has pretty much always had hold on the handheld market. Going back to the old Game & Watch days to the modern 3DS, the competition has been fairly scarce. The 16-bit SEGA Genesis gave the big N a good run in the home console field, so it made sense they would try their hand at making a portable system of their own.

When the Game Gear first hit the market in 1991 (in North America), the Game Boy already had two years of strong sales. Trying to compete when faced with such a disadvantage, the system’s failure was almost a certainty.

As such, the marketing for the Game Gear was…let’s just call it “adversarial.” From the commercials you can find below, you can see SEGA consistently attacking the Game Boy for being inferior for having a monochrome display, and implying its fans lack intelligence for enjoying such a system. It really was the start of a nasty string of console wars that lasted generations. The few people I knew who owned a Game Gear were insufferably arrogant about it, constantly bragging that their system was superior. To this day, fans still bicker about which system is better using technical specifications as the benchmark. To me, it’s always been about substance over style.

In reality, the color display was all the SEGA Game Gear had going for it. It suffered from a poor library of original games, a high price tag, a poor battery life, and little-to-no support–gee, doesn’t all that sound familiar to modern handheld gamers–and finally discontinued in 1997.

So, take a look at the TV advertisements for the SEGA Game Gear, unearthed by the oprainfall Retro Commercial Research Team–in other words, me. And don’t be afraid to let us know your experiences with the Game Gear in the comments below.

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About Eric Chetkauskas

Eric has been playing video games for longer than he can remember. His interests skew toward retro games with an emphasis on Japanese RPGs like Chrono Trigger and the Dragon Quest series.